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The transformative power of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Julian Fahr

Master Thesis Latin American Studies CEDLA Master’s Programme

August 2021

Student no. 13496409

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Barbara Hogenboom Second reader: Prof. Dr. Kees Koonings



Table of Contents

Abstract ... ii

Acknowledgement ... iii

Chapter 1: Introduction ...1

1.1 The rise of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec ...1

1.2 Wind energy and land: A contested relation ...2

1.3 More than just a local problem ...3

1.4 The Isthmus of Tehuantepec: Renewable energy in the focus of Social Science ...4

1.5 Case Study: Wind Energy in the Isthmus ...5

1.6 Thesis structure ...9

Chapter 2: Methods and Theory ... 10

2.1 Methodology ... 10

2.2 Theory ... 13

Chapter 3: Contested Land ... 17

3.1 Legislation: Favouring private companies? ... 17

3.2. Thinking differently: Yansa Ixtepec ... 23

3.3 Lacking consultations and violence ... 25

Chapter 4: Transformative Power of Wind Energy ... 27

4.1 Structural and social changes ... 27

4.1.1 Has the Isthmus of Tehuantepec become a wind economy? ... 28

4.1.2 What are the territorial and environmental impacts of placing wind parks in a rural area?.. 30

4.1.3 How can wind energy influence social and political structures? ... 32

4.1.4 Power structures in the Isthmus (Caciquismo) ... 34

4.1.5 Westernization of the environment and the cultural value of territory ... 35

4.2 Who is benefitting from wind energy? ... 36

5. Conclusion ... 38

References ... 42

List of literature ... 42

List of figures ... 48




This thesis explores the role of wind energy in socioeconomic changes to the use of land in an indigenous region of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the Southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Over the period of over two decades (1994-today) private developers have imprinted the image of energy transition in Mexico. The need to acquire new land for the construction and operation of one of the densest concentrations of onshore wind parks anywhere in the world clashed with the communal land- owning system and intricated local power structures. Territory and socioeconomic relations to ancestral land do, therefore, play a crucial role in the discussion on wind energy development in Mexico's energy transition. It is argued here that, although communal landholding remains the most common form of territorial ownership in Oaxaca, the socioeconomic order in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has been heavily impacted by wind energy development. The thesis was elaborated based on a two-month desk research and reflects on different perspectives from the growing body of literature on the topic.


Esta tesis explora el papel de la energía eólica en los cambios socioeconómicos del uso de la tierra en una región indígena de México, el istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. A lo largo de más de dos décadas (desde 1994 hasta hoy) los desarrolladores privados han imprimido la imagen de la transición energética en México. La necesidad de adquirir nuevas tierras para la construcción y explotación de una de las concentraciones más densas de parques eólicos terrestres de todo el mundo chocó con el sistema de propiedad comunal y con las intrincadas relaciones de poder. El territorio y las relaciones socioeconómicas con la tierra ancestral desempeñan, por tanto, un papel crucial en el debate sobre el desarrollo de la energía eólica en la transición energética de México. Se argumenta aquí que, aunque la tenencia comunal de la tierra sigue siendo la forma más común de propiedad territorial en Oaxaca, el orden socioeconómico en el Istmo de Tehuantepec ha sido fuertemente impactado por el desarrollo de la energía eólica. La tesis fue elaborada con base en una investigación documental de dos meses, asimismo reflexiona sobre diferentes perspectivas que han destacado en la creciente literatura sobre el tema


Diese Arbeit untersucht die Rolle der Windenergie bei sozioökonomischen Veränderungen der Landnutzung in einer indigenen Region des mexikanischen Bundesstaates Oaxaca, dem südlichen Isthmus von Tehuantepec. Über den Zeitraum von mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten (1994-heute) haben private Entwickler das Bild der Energiewende in Mexiko geprägt. Die Notwendigkeit, neues Land für den Bau und Betrieb einer der dichtesten Konzentrationen von Onshore-Windparks weltweit zu erwerben, kollidierte mit dem kommunalen Landbesitzsystem und den lokalen Machtstrukturen.

Territoriale und sozioökonomische Beziehungen in dieser Region spielen daher eine entscheidende Rolle in der Diskussion um die Entwicklung der Windenergie im Rahmen der Energiewende in Mexiko. Es wird hier argumentiert, dass, obwohl der kommunale Landbesitz die häufigste Form des territorialen Eigentums in Oaxaca bleibt, die sozioökonomische Ordnung am Isthmus von Tehuantepec durch die Entwicklung der Windenergie stark beeinflusst wurde. Die Arbeit wurde auf der Grundlage einer zweimonatigen Sekundärforschung erstellt und reflektiert verschiedene Perspektiven aus der wachsenden Literatur zu diesem Thema.




First and foremost, I would like to thank Prof. Barbara and the Cedla-staff for their support during this difficult time. I am grateful to have grown with the challenge of the Master’s programme and the support and feedback from my professors and fellow students. Although an entire Master programme in “homeoffice” during the Covid pandemic was a difficult situation for all of us students and staff members, I am glad that I could take this opportunity to grow personally and develop new skills.



Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 The rise of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

The implementation of sources of renewable energy will be necessary to encounter the drastic consequences of climate change. Decarbonizing the world’s energy supply means to set, maybe not all, but a lot on the card of renewable and in the best case green and clean sources of energy. Wind energy seems to be one of the best solutions on the market, since once a windmill is installed, the pollution of air and environment is virtually zero. The market, though, is expanding and renewable energy is already more than a selfless mean to better the world – it is straight business. Some countries even dream to become “the Saudi Arabia of wind power”1. But what happens when one of the best places to produce wind power is in a Mexican state populated by indigenous people and dominated by a communal land-owning system?

As many studies show (Dunlap 2020, 2018a, Howe, Boyer and Barrera 2015) we cannot divide the discussion on contestation to the implementation of renewable energy sources into progressive environment protection and local protests following NIMBY (not in my backyard) narratives (van der Horst 2007). The generation of energy is not just a technical question since energy is not only a physical entity, “it also encompasses labor and land-use”

(Backhouse and Lehmann 2020). Viewing social contestation from this perspective, the discussion is opened for new theories and methodologies of how to accomplish the transition to renewable energy. One region where we see all these discussions in a concentrated form is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

When in 1994 the windpark La Venta I was installed as a pilot project and thus the first wind park in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, it was not predicable that only two decades from there the region would count “the densest concentration of onshore wind parks anywhere in the world.”

(Howe 2019, p. xi). Nonetheless, the region was already known for its enormous potential for wind energy (Elliott et. al. 2004). Figure 1 illustrates the dense concentration of strong wind activities in the region of the Isthmus. Especially the area around the Laguna Superior (upper lagoon) near the industrial harbor of Salina Cruz shows activities that are classified above excellent. Already in the 1980s tests proved the enormous potential of wind power in the Isthmus, but it needed the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s to accelerate the process of wind energy development in the Oaxacan state. Today the Isthmus is known to have the best resources for terrestrial wind power anywhere in the world.

More recently energy reforms and favourable politics, especially by former president Enrique Peña Nieto and before him his predecessor Felipe Calderón promoted wind energy. A General Law of Climate Change (Ley General de Cambio Climático) from 2012 set 35 % participation of clean energy till 2024 in the national energy matrix as a goal. Another milestone for private investment is the 2014 energy reform that made it easier for private companies to invest in the region. Today as for instance the ethnographical work by Cymene Howe (2019) and Dominic Boyer (2019) show, wind energy in the Isthmus has had winners and losers and also a

1 Quote from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson UK can be 'Saudi Arabia of wind power' - PM - BBC News


2 considerable societal and cultural impact. The growing importance of environmental politics and the call for rapid transitions to renewable energies make it so crucial to take a closer look on the transition processes.

Figure 1 The Isthmus has perfect conditions for wind energy extraction (Elliott et. al 2004)

1.2 Wind energy and land: A contested relation

In this thesis I will shed light on the processes of implementation and operation of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and reflect on how the implementation of wind energy through private companies has changed social and economic structures in the land use and the relation local people have with their land. The emphasis on land use and land control issues follows the recent trend in the body of literature on the topic to highlight especially the role of ownership and control rights (Torres Contreras 2021, Ramirez 2021).

The rapid development of wind energy in Mexico is closely intertwined with privatization politics, fiercely conducted since the early 90s. The neoliberal agenda not only opened the door to foreign investment but also reformed the ejido system, one of the main merits of the Revolution from 1910 and solemnly declared in the 1917 Constitution. It marks a rupture in Mexican history:

El simbolo mas significativo de los vientos neoliberales que han soplado por toda America Latina fue el cambio llevado a cabo en 1992 en el artículo 27 de la Constitución mexicana


3 de 1917, el cual habia abierto el camino a la primera reforma agraria de la región y consagraba una demanda mayor: "Tierra y libertad", que habian esgrimido los insurgentes campesinos durante la Revolución mexicana. (Kay 1998, p. 64)

The word choice of “los vientos neoliberales” is fitting perfectly. The preferred PPP (private public partnership) model in the development of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has been object to contestation. The questions that have emerged are diverse. Some scholars ask who owns the wind (Howe 2019) and others observe the issue of land ownership in a territory that was historically dominated by concepts of ejidario and communal ownership (Lucio 2018).

Looking on the issue with a territorial perspective, one takes note of the nexus between privatization politics and the development of communal owned land. The article “Evolution and Collapse of Ejidos in Mexico – To What Extent is Communal Land Used for Urban Development?” (Schumacher 2019) tells how the ejido land changed after and even before the reforms to article 27 in 1991. These articles on the ejido land - “Tierras ejidales ¿Mercancía o territories indígenas?” (Torres-Mazuera 2019) is another example -also have the crucial effect to not fall into a mono-causal argumentation, for instance explain the downfall of ejido land (if this is the assumption) only with renewable energy reforms in recent years. In the Academic literature we find hints that although the ejido system is still popular in regions like Oaxaca, its actual functionality has changed ( Morett-Sánchez 2017).

The issue of territorial use - from communal/ejido land to private land in hands of huge companies for instance - is not barely the direct economical or environmental impact but the subtle secondary effects that change or endanger social structures and cultural heritage.

Dunlap, for example, explains how in La Ventosa the wind projects first draw foreign residents to the town, then changed, as a consequence, nutrition with Western food and finally lead to health issues that in his argumentation line all derive from the energy transition. He concludes that wind energy development “renews and continues a slow industrial genocide”

(Dunlap 2017b, p. 550).

1.3 More than just a local problem

The academic literature on the case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec tells a lot about the forms of resistance (Howe and Boyer 2015, Lucio 2018, Avila Calero 2017), the environmental and partially social damages and also the ways in which private companies are trying to accumulate capital and land in a region that is declared as one of the places for wind power with the most potential. But another crucial aspect are the socio-political aspects on a broader scale. A lot of the scholars who wrote about this case identified a turning point in Mexico’s 2014 energy reform – the privatization of Mexico’s energy sector. James Cypher shows that this process even took place before, and, that categories such like private or state ownership are not enough to describe the role of the Mexican state in the energy sector. He speaks from “bonanzaism” (Cypher 2018) when he refers to the opportunist conducting of ownership politics in favour of small elite, the Mexican oligarchy. In the case of wind energy,


4 we see as well biased political institutions and hierarchical local systems like the caciquism (caciquismo, chapter 4).

In distinction to case study-oriented research, it seems to be also interesting to focus more on the broader regional impact of the development of wind energy and renewable energy in general. Much has been said about how certain wind parks affect certain communities, but these actors apparently are only part of a wider net of socio metabolic exchanges that take place. This means as well that social structures and economical outputs in societies that were for decades dominated by the ejido system are now impacted by the development of wind energy. What does this mean for the future of communal land holding in Mexico?

The relation, the residents of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec have with the development of wind energy, is special and by far not only negative (chapter 4.1). The different case studies tell from ideological protests, from environmental or social grievances but also from development and broad acceptance. The small town La Ventosa where the first wind park was installed stands out because:

although a considerable amount of the land around La Ventosa is bienes ejidales, it is an ejido that voted to parcel itself after the early-1990s land reforms under President Salinas. This meant that its constituents could now privately contract portions of ejidal land for their own benefit. (Boyer 2019, p.66)

In general terms, it can be seen that what the people most concern about is their participation on economic growth and huge private investments (Howe and Boyer 2016). In some parts they were willing to give up a system that at least guaranteed some basis for an autonomous existence – the ejido system. Taking these considerations into account the question that occurs is how the implementation of wind energy has impacted the social and economic use of communal land and what the dynamics behind these potential processes are?

1.4 The Isthmus of Tehuantepec: Renewable energy in the focus of Social Science The Isthmus of Tehuantepec has become a place of great interest to many academics due to its unique history and socio-economic conditions. As explained above the region stands out with a large indigenous population, on the one side and an immense interest of private investors, on the other side. The application of Green Economy approaches in a region known for its social resistance movements has led to some tensions in the Mexican energy transition. Scholars have especially highlighted the diverse forms of contestation by residents and international NGOs (Avila-Calero 2017, Howe, Boyer and Barrero 2015), tension due to dispossession in local communities (Lucio 2018) and the environmental and cultural impacts of the wind power development (Howe 2019, Dunlap 2017b). These scholars are all interested in how a transition to renewable energy is taking place and how it could take place in an ideal world.

Dominic Boyer for instance discusses the proposal of community owned energy in Ixtepec, Oaxaca (Boyer 2019). This again, demonstrates the variety of not only cases but also theory and contestation that makes the Isthmus of Tehuantepec so interesting for scholars in Social Science.


5 The mere contestation to wind energy, though, is not the only reason that makes the Isthmus so interesting as a region to discuss the transition towards sources of renewable energy. To sum up the points already mentioned we count two salient characteristics that make the Isthmus of Tehuantepec stand out in the discussion. First, the potential to generate wind energy is extremely high in the region. The exploitation of this potential is nearly inevitable for Mexico if it wants to reach its goal of 35 % renewable energy till 2024 (Gobierno Federal de México, 2013). After hydropower wind energy holds the strongest position in generating renewable energy in Mexico (ca. 6 %, Amdee 2021) and it is the fastest growing renewable energy source. Most of the wind energy comes from the Southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Second, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is, though not densely populated, an indigenous region with a huge focus on autonomous, rural administrations and communal land-owning systems.

I repeat myself here to emphasize one important fact: The Isthmus is no empty land. This may sound overly simplistic, but in comparison to Uruguay for example where a transition to sources of renewable energy is virtually without social contestation (Stuhldreher et. al. 2017), Oaxaca is the Mexican state with the biggest density of communal owned land and with the largest indigenous population, embracing various cultures and language families.

The combination of great potential for development, on the one side, and a peculiar demographic constellation, on the other side, make the Isthmus such an interesting region to discuss the issues occurring in the transition towards the use of renewable and cleaner sources of energy. In comparison to traditional sources, renewable energy is first and foremost space consuming. The case of the Isthmus makes us think exactly about this nexus of energy transition and space. It reminds us that in the future more than today territorial questions will occur in a world where a shift to renewable but space consuming sources like wind energy will be inevitable.

1.5 Case Study: Wind Energy in the Isthmus

The implementation of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is indeed a case that requires some explanation. The history can be told from a mere technological point of view as you see it often in government papers or from a social justice perspective, strongly recognisable in critical newspaper articles and Social Science Journals. Both perspectives are valid, since they contribute the kind of information, they are interested in. To explain this case in a way that fits the aim of a broader perspective including territorial and socio metabolic factors, it will be necessary to take both perspectives into account.

This thesis hence does not focus on one case nor a single actor or affected group, since this approach has been used several times from various researchers and without a doubt would require in-depth on-field research. However, the different cases, presented in the work of various scholars and their valorous field work in the Isthmus will be of great use to draw an image of an intertwined and complex net of contestation, transformation, and conflict.

Considering wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the overarching contextualization of all cases, a historical wrap-up of the issue will be given in the following, before coming to the representative cases.


6 The beginning chronologically but also where we can see the different ties for the first time bound together is in the early and mid-1990s. 1990 Mexico officially signed the ILO (International Labor Organization) declaration 169. This document is meant to support indigenous communities in their fight for autonomy and to give their claims for territory a legal foundation. The declaration foresees a free, prior, and informed consultation (chapter 3).

Although human rights organizations and indigenous communities often refer to the ILO declaration 169 in their struggle for land and autonomy, the effectiveness is largely debated.

In the case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the companies have in addition to that managed for a long time to bypass the convention (Backhouse and Lehmann 2020, p.


This event stands contrarily against another historical point that by far seems to have had the bigger impact on how wind energy in the Isthmus developed. The Agrarian Reform from 1992 broke with one of the most notable merits of the Mexican Revolution and the Constitution from 1917 – the ejido system. With this Reform is basically meant a small but significant adaption of article 27 of the Mexican Constitution that made it possible for communities to sell, rent, and subdivide their land. The communal land-owning system perse was not dismissed or replaced and Oaxaca remains the Mexican state with the highest density of communal owned land but by allowing communities to sell the communal land, the changes to the system were dramatic (Avila-Calero 2017, p. 996).

This leads to the third point to explain the initial scenario of this case. Though the legal basis was favourable it was not clear from the begin on that wind energy was the logical next step.

To get to the point where we are today, with 30 wind parks in operation and another seven planned (EJAtlas 2020), there had to occur a few steps. First, in 1994 (the year when NAFTA came into force) the first pilot project La Venta I was installed, but according to the literature the event that “triggered a ‘wind rush’ in the region” (Dunlap 2018c, p. 485) was the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) report that assisted the region a great potential for exploitation of wind energy and attracted especially foreign companies.

From the various wind parks and communities involved and/or effected by the wind energy development certain cases stand out. These cases have been subject to various investigations conducted in the region. Embedded in the context, I outlined before these cases represent different forms of contestation and therefore draw in their conjunction the image of the social and economic changes the implementation of wind energy has caused. The case studies I will most refer to are the heavily effected town of La Ventosa, the cancelled park Mareña Renovables and the not permitted community owned park in Ixtepec. The election of the cases followed parameters such like popularity in academic literature, thematical diversity and representation in other sources of data (for example the EJAtlas).

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is a region in the Mexican state Oaxaca that includes the districts of Tehuantepec and Juchitán. With a total area of 19,977 km2 the Isthmus, borrowing its name from the narrow land bridge between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest region of Oaxaca. This number, though, does not stand in correlation with the amount of people living in the region. Not even 600.000 persons from the more than four million Oaxaqueños are habitants of the Isthmus. This has several reasons. First and foremost, the


7 predominantly indigenous communities live dispersed in the 41 municipalities. For a long time, the Isthmus was due to its difficult conditions for agriculture (heavy winds and mountains) economically unattractive. The consequence is migration to bigger cities or to the United States. In the Environmental Justice Atlas (2020), the project area is set by approximately 32 000 hawhat is already a considerably high amount of the total surface in the Southern Isthmus (Figure 3). This number does not make it into the top lists of wind parks worldwide, considering the total area. However, a glance on the map highlights the density of wind parks in one particular area of the Isthmus. Around the Lago Superior, near the city of Juchitán de Zaragoza we have the vast majority of all wind parks, not only in Oaxaca but in all Mexico (Figure 2). This makes the Isthmus of Tehauntepec the region of the world with the highest density of onshore wind parks.

Figure 2: Oaxaca is the most active state for wind energy (Amdee 2021)

La Ventosa

La Ventosa is a small town with about 4.000 inhabitants, mostly belonging to the indigenous community of Zapotecos, speaking the local variety of the Zapotec language diidxazá. The town is like many indigenous communities in a transformation process, where the elderly generation tends to be monolingual in the indigenous language, while the younger generation is bilingual and tends to Spanish as a first language (Boyer 2019). The town is moreover politically fiercely divided into local authorities (for instance PRI party leaders) and leftists opposition groups (Dunlap 2017a). Subject of this conflict is first and foremost the question of land. Most land around La Ventosa belongs to the local ejido but after the Agrarian Reform from 1992 (chapter 3) the ejido opted for the certification process, which meant the division of the ejido into parcels. The owners of this parcels now had the option to sell or rent their land. With the arrival of wind energy in the region, large companies then took advantage of this land distribution. Today La Ventosa is certainly one of the most effected towns in the


8 Isthmus, being nearly entirely surrounded by wind parks. It is the place in the region where we most can observe the social and economic effects wind energy has caused.

Mareña Renovables

The Mareña Renovables project tells the story of successful community resistance to a wind park that was meant to be the largest onshore wind park in Latin America (Howe 2019). To understand why a community opposed to a project that aimed to prevent the emission of 879.000 tons of greenhouse gases, one has to take a look at the special characteristics of this case. The assessment of the protests and social conflicts around the Laguna Superior have drawn the interest of various scholars in the field of Social Science (Howe 2019, Howe, Boyer and Barrera 2015, Lucio 2018, Rueda 2011). Originally the Spanish company Preneal planned to supply large beverage companies with wind energy from 102 turbines in the Coastal bar Barra Santa Teresa (figure 3) and another 30 turbines in Santa María del Mar (EJAtlas 2017).

The project passed successfully the first Open Season in 2006 (see chapter 4) and, therefore, counted with the support of both government and investors. The resistance to the project, which finally ended in the cancellation at the end of 2012, came mainly from the Huave (Ikoots) population of San Dionisio, San Mateo del Mar, and San Francisco del Mar. The indigenous people dreaded environmental effects, especially the interference with the local fishing grounds. They also defended their communal owned land, which has never achieved the same recognition by the state as the land of the Zapotec people (Rueda 2011).

Nonetheless, Ikoots and Binnizá (that’s how Huave and Zapotecos call themselves) - who not only because of the inequal treatment from the government always had ethnical conflicts - came together in the opposition to the wind projects. The new alliance between Ikoot and Binnizá is one of the unforeseen results of wind energy development in the Isthmus (Howe, Boyer and Barrera 2015).

Yansa Ixtepec

The third prominent case is a planned community wind park in the municipality of Ixtepec.

The idea of using wind energy as a tool of community development and empowerment is not new but mostly applied in countries from the Global North like Denmark or Germany. In Ixtepec members of the community in conjunction with the international NGO Yansa wanted to follow the Danish example. The proposal stands like an antithesis to the industrial self- supply model in the renewable energy sector in Mexico (see chapter 3.2). This antithesis and the prospect of a different form of development has been investigated broadly with a variety of literature based on in-depth fieldwork (Boyer 2019, Howe and Boyer 2015, Diego Quintanta 2015, Zárate Santiago 2015, Hoffmann 2012). Ixtepec like La Ventosa has Zapotec routes with a rural tradition that gradually makes place for more urban forms of life (Hoffmann 2012). The Yansa Ixtepec case occupies a special place in the discussion on the role of land in the development of wind energy in the Isthmus since it is the only largely reported case where the conflicts do not come from resistance against something but the fight for creating something new. This proactive approach stands out in the region.



Figure 3: Wind parks in the Isthmus 2020 (EJAtlas 2020)

1.6 Thesis structure

The introduction had the purpose to present the special characteristics of wind energy development in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as well as introducing the overarching conflicts and discussions concerning the transition to renewable energy in Mexico and elsewhere in the world. Some of the aspects mentioned in the introduction will be recalled and treated more in depth in the two analytical chapters. Before that, I will introduce my theoretical and methodological approach to the subject. The analytical part is broadly divided into two sections. First, in chapter three, I will focus on the implementation period which includes the legal frame, interactions between the actors but also alternative models of development. In the fourth chapter, then, I will highlight the operation period. Here, the question is concretely concerning the subject of this thesis of how wind energy implementation impacts the socioeconomic use of land. Finally, in the conclusion I will reflect on these two sections and explore to what extent the implementation of wind energy has already left its footprint in the Isthmus society.



Chapter 2: Methods and Theory

2.1 Methodology

From February to April 2021, I conducted a desk research. The desk research was, as I reflect later, the most suitable response to the conditions of a global pandemic and the already abundant ethnographic research in the area. In the following, I will discuss the four key elements during my two-month research. The core research took place in the study of Academic articles and books, the assessment of government papers and the continuous analysis of information through mind mapping and other coding models. The additional but not less important part of the research consisted in the extensive study of less academic or topic related sources.

1. Academic articles

My research was heavily focussed on the lecture of Academic articles and books. Most of the Social Science articles on the wind parks were focussed on specific cases and enriched by often times many years of field work. The most notable example is the Duograph (two different books resulting from mutual fieldwork and literature) written by Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer. Other articles, though, were more concerned with economic and territorial questions. I therefore went to read additionally articles on the ejido system and conflicts in Mexico’s land-owning system due to the realization of megaprojects. Furthermore, I read articles on theoretical approaches to environmental questions, as mentioned in the Theory chapter.

The lecture of Academic articles on the issue of wind energy in the Isthmus without a doubt made the biggest part of my research. Since government data was not always helpful (as I am going to explain in the next section), the collected data from academic articles, especially on territorial issues, helped to feed my research continuedly. The different aspects covered in the articles, going from the ownership structure of wind energy companies to human right issues, attributed to the diversity of the research and helped to get a holistic perspective on the matter.

2. Government data

Obtaining reliable and valuable data is without a doubt a challenge. The case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is an area where, on the one hand, the government represents an authority in disposing of this kind of data but, on the other hand, probably is not that interested in sharing it with the public. The government’s perspective on the case, though, is crucial to the understanding of the issue. Since many of the Academic social science articles focus on single cases and/or single social issues, the eventually more holistic perspective of a government had the potential to widen the perspective as well as emphasizing economic and technological aspects. However, the often-abundant government papers, represent various problems of different degrees. In the following, I illustrate this with three papers whose values of information differ considerably.


11 First, the “Balance Nacional de Energía 2018” (2020) is a proper document of the SENER (the national secretary of energy) that provides a ton of tables and graphs outlining the energetic situation in Mexico. Unsurprisingly, the document affirms the growing but still little significance of wind power in the national energy matrix, but it does not deal with territorial questions. The second report I want to highlight, and which is representative of the international assessment of wind energy in Mexico is the 2015 IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) report that was carried out with the SENER. This more text- based report praises the potential in the Isthmus and promotes a quicker change to renewable energy resources. Apart from addressing legal issues in implementing more renewable energy production to the matrix, the report is scarce on social and territorial issues that occur in Mexico. Nonetheless, the report is a good basis to understand where wind energy in Mexico is heading at and what its role in the future might be. The last report I want to mention, Mexico’s development plan PRODESEN 2020-2034 (Programa de Desarrollo del Sistema Eléctrico Nacional 2020 a 2034) is the most critical. For being a development plan, social and territorial issues play a way too small role. This, apparently, reflects the idea of development the Mexican government transmits in the development of renewable energy. These reports are good for what they are but their answers to social questions regarding the changing use of territory are missing. Nonetheless, in my analysis this data is a solid orientation to define the role of the federal government in the case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

3. Working around the subject: Immersion through media

Conducting research in a global pandemic obviously shifted the methodology to desk research. Nonetheless, it is important to somehow connect with the place of research.

Although the academic value of youtube videos, radio shows and playing with Google Maps may seem limited, it is an unavoidable part of the research to connect in a more informal way with the place the researcher is dealing with. Youtube is a good medium to listen to local languages and to see the pictures in action, showing aspects of the life like fishery, tourism, and religious rituals. I call this approach therefore immersion through media and consider in these tiny steps the foundation of an academic driven research “off”-field.

4. Keeping track of the data

In order to keep track of my data I followed three basic principles. First, selection of useful and non-useful data is a preliminary condition. Moreover, it is important to identify dated or repetitive information that is quite often the case in a quickly developing field. Second, for the core data it was crucial to find categories, instead of relating each article to one another. Some represent more the human rights perspective, while other highlight territorial issues or focus on legislation matters. My last principle was closely related to the foregoing section and will be denominated as mass-data collection focussing on newspaper articles and videos. Online notetaking tools allow it to interrelate this information and also to keep an order with immense amounts of informal or semi-formal data.


12 Methodological benefits and limitations

Desk research has shown its benefits and limitations during my research. First of all, it has to be said that due to the global pandemic it was not possible to got to the field and actually have real life conversations with the different actors. The pandemic moreover brought different problems to the region that may be relatable with the subject of this thesis or may not be. It is important to say that current developments under the administration of Andrés Lopez Obrador and the effects of the coronavirus did not influence the investigation of this thesis. Most of the articles read during research were published within the last ten years but before the outbreak of the virus.

The missing field research, though, is a lacking part of my investigation. In my opinion there are three points that stand out. First, being there allows in the best case to speak to all parties and conduct a small ethnographical research. In my case it would have been largely beneficial to see how structures of land use are in the Isthmus instead of only reading and hearing it. The second limitation I see is the gathering of data and sources to be analysed. Being on field I would have gathered probably not only more accurate data but also widened the spectrum of sources to local radio, newspaper and self-taken footage. Last, I must declare that I’m fully aware of not having been locally connected to the region. This is a question of scale, noticing grey zones and seeing things like they are seen there.

In all these points I see, nevertheless, also an opportunity. In the same order to concentrate on Academic articles and to appreciate the already done ethnographical work by experienced researchers. This also means that I do not have to limit myself to one particular case or to be concerned by the grievances and claims of one particular group. The desk research let me focus on different aspects and on a more holistic image. Finally, being not there also has the benefit to not build a strong bias. I am completely aware of the grievances uttered by local resistance groups and human right organizations but the tendency to assume these justified perspectives is in my opinion already very dominant in the literature on the case.

Although I was in Mexico for the last time in early 2020, visiting friends from different parts of the country on a two-month journey, I personally do not have a family background that connects me with the country, nor did I live there for a longer period of time. The case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec came to my mind when I already had started my master’s degree and was investigating wind energy in Uruguay. A friend of mine, who is an environmental activist in the Estado de México then told me about the huge wind farms in Oaxaca and the social conflicts surrounding this topic. I was in Oaxaca in 2020 but only visited the Northern part of the state. Her description of the Southern Isthmus immediately evoked my interest, and I began researching without any presumptions. I want to make clear that I was a worshipper of renewable energy before, and I still believe that the implementation of renewable energy is inevitable. I did not get involved into a social movement nor do I represent a certain party. I am aware of my positionality and cannot deny that my undergraduate studies in Economics or my socialization in the Global North in some parts may rationalize aspects that for others might be very emotional. I would see it as a limitation and advantage at the same time.



2.2 Theory

Political Ecology

Before I present a more specific theory of the field of political ecology, I want to promote the field itself as an excellent seedbed for diverse discussions of the above explained issue. Given the relevance of the issue of territory and distribution in energy transition processes, it is only logical to consider environmental conflicts as a part of political conflicts. Political ecology sees in the socially and geographically uneven distribution of the economies gains and losses the basis for emerging environmental conflicts (Martínez-Alier 2002). This frame is extraordinary powerful since it politicizes, on the one hand, the ecology and on the other hand, frames political and economic processes in the margin of ecology. This is for me the most intuitive way to see how politics of Green Economy (here the implementation of wind energy) affect political, social structures that are result of a struggle for social justice.

Political ecology, as scholars like James McCarthy show, is perfectly applicable for the case of renewable energies (McCarthy 2015). The analytical approach permits a critical perspective on neoliberal energy transition projects and questions the narratives of Green Economy policies: “the explicit goal of most of these “Green New Deal” proposals is to save capitalism, not to promote a transition towards a genuinely different socioeconomic system.”

(McCarthy 2015). We have here also an analytical frame that is dealing with phenomena like the commodification of natural resources (Heynen and Robbins 2005). This trend is also described in the case of wind power in Oaxaca (Howe 2019) and in these nexuses I see the reason why to implement political ecology as an analytical frame.

Land Grabbing

The importance of land grabbing as an ongoing process in Latin America is reflected in a diverse academic literature on the topic. In general terms one could conclude that land grabbing has primarily something to do with big capital interest in the food and fossil fuel industries or in particular cases with power policies (Borras 2012). But within the theory of land grabbing there exists one branch that is of special interest to my research project. Land grabs in the name of the environment, called ‘green grabs’ (Fairhead 2012). The impacts these forms of land appropriation have on social agrarian structures such like the ejido system, are an interesting subject to investigation. More recent publications in the field highlight for example the role of social transformation (Dunlap 2017a, Avila Calero 2017). Other scholars highlight the role of land rents and their distribution (Alonso Serna 2021). Furthermore, this frame invites to think about dispossession in land grabbing. As Borras et al. say “land grab does not always require expulsion of peasants from their lands; it does not always result in dispossession.” (Borras 2012, p. 850).

The theory of land grabbing is especially interesting in the case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. That private companies supported by the state grab land in the rural areas of Oaxaca in order to build wind parks is an often-heard claim of resistance movements. For my


14 thesis, this analytical frame is particularly important, since it not only captures these conflicts in a theoretical concept but also because it provides further implications. Borras clarifies that

“land grabbing is essentially ‘control grabbing’ “(Borras 2012, p. 850). The analytical frame of land grabbing, thus, applied to my case, would not just serve to detect actual cases but to analyse the reasons and implications of land grabbing processes.

Social metabolism

The question of land ownership leads to another question that is how this conflict fits into a broader margin. A theory that is widely used by scholars to understand local conflicts on a global scale is social metabolism (Martinez Alier 2016). The concept - in distinction to neoliberal ways to analyse economical processes - takes into account for instance material and energy flows. This form of analyse helps to characterize different socio-ecological transitions.

Temper et al. highlight the advantages this analytical frame has:

“Geographically uneven and socially unequal metabolic processes in fact are key to understanding environmental inequality, which in turn reinforces and at the same time reflects overt forms of hierarchy and exploitation.” (Temper 2015, p. 260)

For me there is no doubt that social metabolism and its methods of analysing material and energy flows (Martinez-Alier 2016) are able to frame my thesis topic on a more global scale.

The academic literature on social metabolism shows that transition processes and land use are highly contested topics (Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl 2007). The analytical frame allows it not only to shed light on distributional conflicts but also to compare contrasting systems of ejido and Green Economy on a global scale.

A major contribution in the field of Social Metabolism comes from the Mexican biologist Victor M. Toledo. In his work he opens the analytical field of Social Metabolism to cultural and social factors and promotes a non-separation of social, environmental, and economic factors (Figure 4). In a later chapter of their extensive book on Social Metabolism Toledo and his colleague Gónzales Molina conclude that they “have defended the conception of social systems as natural systems and society is also nature.” (Gónzales de Molina and Toledo 2014, p. 256). In an earlier publication Toledo defines the intangible processes of a society as the

“armazón para los procesos materiales del metabolism” (Toledo 2013, p.51). These processes are normally divided into appropriation (Apr), transformation (Tr), circulation (Cir), consumption (Con), and excretion (Exc).



Figure 4: society and nature are intertwined (Gónzales de Molina and Toledo 2014)2

Social metabolism is a fitting theoretical frame since it includes the broader environmental and economic factors such as the social and cultural ones, or as Toledo says: “En cada sociedad dada existe, por lo tanto, una articulación específica de los cinco procesos metabólicos, y una constitución específica de las relaciones sociales que configuran cada uno de ellos, [...]” (Toledo 2013, p. 52)

Asked in an interview how his take on Social Metabolism could be used, Toledo answers es imposible salir de la crisis ecológica mientras se mantenga la explotación social, porque esta es la que induce la explotación de la naturaleza. Tampoco se puede superar la crisis sin un abandono de las energías fósiles, que vistas en perspectiva fueron un

«regalo del demonio». En suma, que parece que por fin vamos a disponer de una sencilla brújula, de una elemental carta de navegación para entender el mundo contemporáneo. (Toledo 2011, p.177)

This quote demonstrates the great use of this theoretical approach for assessing the social struggles in the context of wind energy development in Oaxaca and the rest of the world. This perspective allows us to consider the issue from both sides and include the social perspective to a technological debate. Toledo does not give clear instructions of how to use his theory, but he motivates to see social issues as intertwined with other metabolic processes in society.

2 Gónzales de Molina and Toledo 2014


16 Key concepts

Apart from the theoretical frame that gives a structure to my conceptual approach, I think it is necessary to further define two key concepts, since they may be not that clear. The concepts of (dis-)information and ownership are crucial in order to understand the processes before and after the acquisition of rural land through international companies.

Information is a far too broad term. Its opposite, though, disinformation plays an important role in the discussion on wind energy and other megaprojects realized in indigenous territory.

The questions that need to be asked are: Who disinforms who? Why does he do so? Which way does information flow? Where does information come from?

Especially the last question is meant to think about the process of information building. A free, prior, and informed consultation as foreseen by the ILO declaration 169 (see chapter 3) might not be enough, apart from being bypassed regularly for a lack of precision. Bessi and Navarro claim even doubt the good intentions of the ILO declaration, while in many reports it is been put like a DESPITE of the International Labor Organization’s Convention (Bessi and Navarro 2017).

Disinformation or the power to use information to your benefits is described by Fabiana Li (2015) for the case of mining in Peru as by Cymene Howe (2019) and Dominic Boyer (2019) in the case of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The pattern is nearly always the same and in my conceptualization of information I want to shed light on the processes of information creation and therefore take the grievances of local activists serious, since in my opinion information is not just a technical term that means A informs B about C, but a process of mutual participation and the result of an open dialogue.

And finally, I want to narrow down what ownership structure might imply in the case of wind energy. In a socio-metabolic frame the question is how the product produced - here energy - interacts in the local and regional context. The common model wind energy companies apply is not benefitting primarily the habitants but big national and international companies, as well as the extractive industry. This so-called self-supply model might cause confusion. Indeed, if we speak about self-supply or autobastecimiento in the context of wind energy in Mexico, we do not mean that households have their own little wind park or that communities reached energy autonomy with their own energy production. These concepts are not science fiction but simply not the case for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Self-supply means here that a private producer of wind energy (in the most cases big transnational companies) supplies first of all its commercial and service companies with the produced energy and only the surplus is sold to the Federal Electric Commission (CFE) which controls the grid in Mexico. For doing so the developers need grid access and this is tied to strict conditions that make the application of self-supply for small developers and communities basically impossible. The alternative to this model is independent power production (IPP), which means that all the energy produced is sold to the CFE. This scheme stands also in the light of private public partnership (PPP) but for private developers the self-supply scheme is more attractive (Avila-Calero 2017).



Chapter 3: Contested Land

The legal conditions play an important role in the debate on land use and ownership structures in renewable energy development in Mexico and elsewhere in the world. In Mexico we find a legal frame that favours neoliberal models of PPP (private-public-partnership) over more community inclusive joint venture businesses. The dynamics behind the neoliberal renewable energy development in Mexico, though, are more complex and imbedded in a deep sociocultural and historical context. It is necessary to differentiate the variables that determine ownership and participation in the development of wind energy in Mexico. First, we must speak about the main legal conditions. The question to discuss in the following is how these conditions protect or not protect communal land. Concluding these two points, we will discuss other reasons for the privatization of communal owned land in the development of wind energy projects.

With the analysis of the legal system in mind, we will see in the second section of this chapter, how a community/NGO-driven project failed partly because of the before mentioned legal conditions but also because of lacking support from the government. The example of the Yansa Ixtepec project, though failed in its execution, will furthermore introduce an important component in the assessment of local communities: Their willingness to participate. The participation of communities in the development of renewable energy is in Mexico still hindered by various institutions.

This thought brings us to the third and final section of this chapter. The participation of local communities and the consideration of their interests is legally fixed but bypassed for a long time by private companies and the government. The (de facto) lack of free, prior and informed consultations plays a crucial role in the theoretical discussion on land grabs. The third section of this chapter also gives credit to voices from the region claiming that conflicts over land and control rights are also contested in an illicit way by using violence and intimidation.

3.1 Legislation: Favouring private companies?

Legal Conditions

With legal conditions, we broadly speak about three branches. First, the laws and legislation defining the use and development of renewable energy in Mexico, second, the land rights defining the practical and possible uses of communal owned land and finally, the legal protection of the people inhabiting these territories as well as their cultures and social organization. To describe the institutional frame for wind energy development in Mexico, Zaremberg divides into derechos humanos, derechos de propiedad y concesión, derechos agrarios, derechos politicos and derechos ambientales (Zaremberg 2018, p. 85). One could, hence, add environmental (derechos ambientales) and political rights (derechos políticos) to the legal conditions but for reasons of conciseness and simplicity, we will focus on the three above mentioned groups.

On a political level, the uprise of wind energy in the Isthmus is intertwined with the presidency of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), mostly known for his anti-drug politics. In


18 comparison to his opponent and current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) candidate Calderón represented the economy friendly option.

Calderón, though a conservative central right politician, was a huge advocate of renewable energies during his presidency (Boyer 2019, p. 76). To a certain extent, he paved the way for a soon rapidly growing private sector of the Mexican economy. The 2008 Ley para el Aprovechamiento de Energías Renovables y el Financiamiento de la Transición Energética (LAFERTE)3 can be counted as the breakthrough for wind energy development on the legal side. The development, wind energy legislations took under the presidency of Calderón culminated in the 2012 General Law on Climate Change where Mexico set for itself the goal to reach 35% of clean energy by 2024 (Howe and Boyer 2015, p. 216).

To discuss land right in Mexico one could go way back to the aftermath of the Mexican revolution and even into the Porfiriato but it shall be enough to set a starting point in 1992 when the Agrarian (counter) Reform - as indicated in brackets - ended partially with one of the major merits of the Revolution: The Agrarian Reform in the 1917 Constitution that (re)established communal landholding systems like the ejido system or the more ancestral form of communities of usos y costumbres. With the reform – the adaptation of article 27 of the Mexican constitution - those communities were legally allowed to sell, rent, and subdivide their land (Avila-Calero 2017, p. 996).

The Electric Energy Public Service Law (Ley del Servicio Público de Energía Eléctrica) from the same year further allowed individual contracts about land between local landholders and private companies (Howe and Boyer 2015). This law opened the door for more private investment in the Mexican energy sector. The model of self-supply - or autoabastecimiento in Spanish – makes it possible for private companies to produce their own energy or for energy developers to sell this energy to commercial partners. Foreign investors furthermore have the opportunity to import (given that there is the infrastructure) energy from Mexico without producing it there (Hamister 2012, Dunlap 2017). The foundation for a fast economical driven development of wind energy, therefore, had been set even before the first wind park in the Isthmus was installed.

The matter of human rights protection, on the other side, is legally not that clear. First, there is the question of who is supposed to protect the communities and rural landowners and against what? According to the government the communities first of all benefit from the wind energy development, and therefore it is not necessary to protect the alleged winners (Sellwood and Valdivia 2017). However, there exists a legal frame that not only seeks to protect rural and indigenous people but also to empower them to actual parts of development processes. Most prominently this is the Convention 169 from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which Mexico signed in 1990 as one of the first countries. Nonetheless, the ILO 169 Convention, has been treated differently throughout the years and, though, Mexico was the first country to sign the Convention, it took 20 years to finally apply it. The Convention covers many points that aim to strengthen the rights of indigenous people, but it does not

3Diario Oficial de la Federación (DOF). Ley para el Aprovechamiento de Energías Renovables y el Financiamiento de la Transición Energética; 2008.


19 compensate a responsible national government. The concrete aspect of free, prior and informed consultations, that grew out of the ILO convention 169 will be discussed later in this chapter.

The people living in the Isthmus, mostly belonging to indigenous communities, do not count on sufficient legal protection of their cultural and social identity. This is in fact one of the reasons why the conflicts in the Isthmus are so fierce. Díaz Carnero observes that the Mexican government sees indigenous people as persons who need the helping hand of the state but not as fully integrated subjects of law (sujetos de derecho). Being seen as entidades de interés público the indigenous communities are – as some argue – of “cultural interest” to the Mexican state but do not have the support to strengthen their autonomous structures and to develop as they wish (Díaz Carnero 2015).


20 Is communal land protected?

The changes in article 27 of the Mexican Constitution weakened the protection of communal land, especially the ejido land (Schumacher 2019, Torres-Mazuera 2019). Nonetheless, communal land is still popular in Mexico and socially and economically important (Morett- Sánchez and Cosío-Ruiz 2017). The outlook of ejidos and agrarian communities in Mexico has changed but the question of to what degree communal land is protected is hard to answer.

In the case of the federal state of Oaxaca we have on the one side, the great popularity of communal land that is strongly intersected with the rural and traditional lifestyle of the mostly indigenous community, and on the other side, we observe that especially regions like the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are susceptible for land enclosures because of their resources (Sellwood and Valdivia 2017, Backhouse and Lehmann 2020).

A good indicator for the situation of the communal land is the Registro Agrario Nacional (RAN), the national land register. The newest report from 2020 shows that since 1992 the total number of núcleos agrarios (either an ejido or an agrarian community) even grew. While 1992 there were 27.410 ejidos and 2.573 comunidades registered which makes a total of 29.983 núcleos agrarios, this number was at 32.203 in July of 2020, divided into 29.793 ejidos and 2.410 comunidades. The total social property – propiedad social – in contrast to this number did take a slightly downward development. Ejido land and communal land make together the propiedad social in Mexico. This is neither national property nor private property by law (Morett-Sánchez and Cosío-Ruiz 2017). In 1992 103,2 million ha of social property contributed 52 % to the Mexican territory, whereas in 2020 99,7 million ha contributed to 50.5 % of the national territory (RAN 2020). We must take into account that the forests and the selva also count as social property. From all states Oaxaca stands out with 553.959 agrarian subjects, comuneros and ejidatarios.

In Oaxaca we observe moreover an emphasis in comunidades agrarias (Figure 5). While on the national level the ejido land is predominant, the total number of comunidades but also communal territory speaks for the peculiarity of the Oaxacan state. Historically there is a sharp distinction between ejidos and comunidades agrarias. Ejidos represent a unique form of rustic modalities that stand for the public use and are founded by the state but not owned.

Meanwhile the Agrarian community have a history that traces back to the colonial time and before. Nowadays, the distinction of both forms is in its extent debated (Morett-Sánchez and Cosío Ruiz 2017, Kelly 2010).

The communal land has remained in numbers relatively stable but in a report from 2021, the strategical program for 2021-2024, the RAN pointed out that since 1992 the nature of the ejido system and the comunidades has changed due to the legislative adaption in the Constitution and other legal changes. With over 500 identified agrarian conflicts (April 2020) and a bunch of deteriorations in organization and representation of the núcleos agrarios, the RAN draws a devastating image of the current condition of communal land (RAN 2021, p.

29). This however is rather a simplification. The RAN argues that we see deteriorations in the communal land-owning system because there are no more laws that oblige them to certain positive actions like infrastructural investments (RAN 2021, p. 29) but this insinuates that the problem comes from within the system and does not implicate the deterioration affected from


21 outside. Asking how well the communal land is protected, the explanation of the RAN does not seem satisfactory. Some responsibility lies certainly with the government that did too little according to critical voices claiming that the promise of land justice and rights of the Mexican Revolution was never fulfilled (Schumacher 2019, Morett-Sánchez and Cosío-Ruiz 2017).

Others claim that the focus has lied too much on development and not on understanding the ejido territory as a space for collective identity (Torres-Mazuera 2019).

The concept of green grabbing as a form of land grabbing, on the other side, does not necessarily mean the expulsion of peasants of their land (Borras 2012, p. 850) but the first step of green grabbing is often the enclosure of land (Fairhead 2012, p. 17). The town La Ventosa in Juchitán is a very good example, as it is completely surrounded by wind parks (Howe 2019, Dunlap 2017a). This is a rather subtle threat to communal land but should be considered even more because of its long-term consequences. Considering the aspect of land grabbing, the Agrarian Reform entails another problem. The neoliberal reforms, favouring privatisation and PPP models did not fit with the communal land system. The reforms did not only weaken the system from inside, as stated by the RAN, but also made it more susceptible to uncontrolled private investment. It is said that the land access contracts show irregularities (Sellwood 2017, p. 216) and the fact that in many cases it is not clear who the owner of the territory is, seems to be beneficial to the companies as well (p. 212).

To sum it up, communal land is not perse unprotected but the Agrarian Reform from 1992 and the deregulation since then, contributed to deterioration from inside the system. Moreover, in regions from interest to big capital investment, the un-responded vacancies in the legal frame made it easy for private companies to get hold of former communal land and therefore endanger the system in a first step systematically.

Figure 5 social property in Mexico and in Oaxaca

Total surface (ha)

Surface ejidos (ha)


communities (ha)

Total surface social property (ha)

% of total surface

Mexico 197 255 000 82 229 453 17 479 218 99 708 671 50,5%

29 793 ejidos 2409 comunidades 32 202 units

Oaxaca 9 375 700 1 654 465 5 961 418 7 615 883 81,2 %

854 ejidos 747 comunidades 1 601 units

Source: own elaboration with data from the RAN (2020)




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